Saturday, April 07, 2007

Roger Powell, Jr.

I'm writing these words from the La Quinta Inn in North Little Rock, Arkansas. Rose and I left Joplin at about 1:30 PM on Good Friday, and drove to Little Rock. We watched the Arkansas RimRockers defeat the Sioux Falls Skyforce by a score of 123-120. We drove to watch Roger Powell Jr. (nicknamed The Rev) play. Roger scored 19 points and had 7 rebounds. You can get a box score of the game here. I had tried to get the phone number of his parents in Joliet, IL, to try to make contact with him before coming, hoping to get to meet him. I couldn't get a number for his parents, so I tried the next best thing. I called the Arkansas RimRockers, and explained that I had followed his career since high school, through the University of Illinois, at Rockford, IL in the CBA, briefly at the Utah Jazz, and now on the Arkansas RimRockers of the NBA D-League, and that I was driving from Missouri and would like to meet him face to face. The message was passed on to a David who is the PR guy for the players on the team. I had left my cell phone number, and about the time we were crossing the state line from Missouri to Arkansas, I got a call back from David. I was instructed once I got to the arena to ask for him, and he would try to arrange a meeting with Roger, possibly before the game, but if not, we could certainly speak with him after the game, as it is customary for the players to remain in the gym and sign autographs.

We got to Little Rock, checked into our motel and headed to the Alltel Are
na. We bought tickets just before 6:00 PM (tip-off time was 7:00 PM), and the doors to the arena did not even open until 6:00. We got inside, found our seats, and located David. He said he would mention something to Roger. We saw the team on the court taking warmups, and David said something to Roger. He waved at us, and indicated that he would come over and talk to us in a bit. He came by, talked to us, and seemed to be genuinely moved that we would drive 4 hours to see him play. We talked about how I knew his father, playing ball with him in Joliet. He asked us if we would have some time after the game, maybe to catch a bite to eat.

After the game, there was
an auction of the jerseys worn by the players, with the proceeds going to charity. The Arkansas RimRockers are an affiliate of the Miami Heat, and the Arkansas players wore Miami Heat uniforms. Powell wore number 25 (his normal number is 43). His jersey went for $260. We waited for him while he showered. He came out dressed very nicely. There were some people from his local church family in Little Rock that we met, and then we found a restaurant near our motel, and shared a meal. He was happy to share a meal with us, because normally he eats by himself. As a Christian, his conduct is different from team members. At the restaurant, he called his Mom and Dad, and I got to speak with them for a while.

Roger is licensed to preach, and has a ministry (Roger Powell Jr. Ministr
ies). The D-League season will end within the next week, and Roger will go back home, and begin his ministry work. During the summer, he'll likely be invited to Summer Camps for some NBA teams, and feels confident that he can make it to the Senior League. He has the talent, the work ethic, and Christian character that today's young people need as a role model. I hope he makes it. He promised me tickets when he does make it. I have his cell phone number and his personal e-mail. Roger, I'm going to take you up on it!

He has garnered the attention of basketball experts. He is leading the NBA D-League in scoring (points per game); he will be awarded the NBA D-League Sportsmanship Award for the 2006-2007 season at their final home game. The most appealing thing about him, though, is his genuine Christian character, and desire to serve God. He's a hard working basketball player, who puts on his hard hat, picks up his lunch box, and shows up to play. But above all, he's committed to Jesus Christ, and signs Philippians 4:13 every time he signs an autograph.

Roger Powell, may God bless you


Andy Rodriguez said...

Wow! Sounds like a great night. I am liking this Roger guy more and more. I'm glad you got to meet him and share a meal with him.

Becky said...

It is nice to hear Roger is having such good success in the D League. Thanks for your info. As a U of I alumna, I have tried to follow the players after their graduation. When you talk to him again, let him know random alums are wishing him well.

Becky Irons

Claudia said...

Thanks so much for the update on Roger, and the great photos. I have a "Google Alert" set up for "Roger Powell", so I've been keeping up as best I can with how he's doing since he graduated from UIUC. I'm glad he continues to do well, and hope that this summer he will again get the chance he deserves to play in the NBA. Surely there is an NBA team that will value his skills, his work ethic, and his character, and will give him the opportunity to play for them - they will never regret it. Please let him know there are many Illini fans who support him! Claudia Washburn

Mike said...

Bro. Fish,
Long time no blog. Glad you got to catch up with Roger. Getting to eat a meal with him would be awesome. I think Roger has that Robert Horry kind of style that some team will pick up on, and then all he will need to do is hit ONE big shot in the playoffs and his career will be set.

Hopefully our Cubs can pick up the pace a bit. It is early so you can't win the pennant in April but you can come close to losing it (unless you are the Astros or the Marlins then you only have to play well after Memorial Day). Hope things are going well for you. Give your family our best.

Mike Foster